[Review] - Continuum, Season 4 Episodes 4 And 5, "Zero Hour" And "The Desperate Hours"

Courtesy of Neal Street Productions
I am an advocate for condensed runs. If you look back at my history, I have spoken many times about how much higher the quality a show reaches when it has less episodes to work with. It narrows the focus, and insists that the writers cover only the material that is absolutely integral to the foundations, themes and plot of the show. 24 episodes leads to bloat and filler, to worshiping the status quo and having to constantly half step for fear of getting to a point too quickly and running out of ideas (see most network series). 10-12 episodes allows a leisurely pace without every loosing focus, and still letting the characters the occasional dalliance off to the side, which may create a larger problem they have to contend with later down the line (see most cable series). 6 episodes should be lean, fierce and laser focused. If 24 episodes are one of those Honda trumpet playing robots, than 12 episodes are a T-800 and 6 should be a T-1000.

Here is the issue I've been having with Continuum with season: it's still operating like it has 12 episodes to work with. And it's not so much that the episodes we are getting feel like they are skipping episodes in between, it's that they are setting up the plot as if they had 12 episodes in which to unravel the various machinations of the characters. But they don't, so things are moving every quickly, far quicker than is needed for a reasonable explanation to this show's particular brand of Big Ideas. So, explanations that we've waited one or two or three seasons for aren't packing the punch that they should. And Big Ideas that were clearly being set up to play a larger role in more and fuller seasons are getting half explanations just to avoid LOST-style disappointment. And, worst of all, focus is being lost on the show's own rules in trying to juggle all these elements, and the next episodes ends up having to walk back a bit and explain how those rules are still the way things work.

Hit the jump for the review, which contains spoilers that are just a walking kidney transplant.

Fundamentally, episode 4 seemed to disregard or forget entirely a lot of the rules the show has been so meticulous about presented these past three season, and episode 5 realized this, and needed to feature a lot of characters explaining to others about how the stuff in episode 4 was wrong. Kiera has been completely obsessed with the idea of returning home, when the very existence of Brad's comrades proves that her future does not exist (or didn't as of five episodes ago). And finally - finally - at least two people pointed this fact our in episode 5.

It is comforting to know that the writers know this plot hole exists, but in acknowledging that it exists, they create a bigger problem: Kiera is being aggressively and willfully stupid. And I have a problem with that. Kiera has been, for the most part, the smartest person on the show. She traditionally is the one least likely to act because of emotion. She's a cop, it makes sense that she reacts based on evidence and fact. Alec is prone to emotional outbursts, as is Carlos, as is any given member of Liber8. Kiera isn't entirely stoic, but she was able to keep things in perspective. And because of that, she managed to handle being blow back in time better than most.

Her decision to suddenly need to jump forward again is bull headed, entirely based on manipulated emotions, and runs counter to everything that she has done to this point. Look at it this way: if you were from France, and you moved to Scotland, and then found out that France had been reduced to a smoldering crater, you wouldn't decide to move back to France. And even if you heard a rumor that France had been rebuilt, you wouldn't go back if there was a chance you'd end up in the smoldering crater, and if you did do so, there would be no way back to Scotland. Even if you family and everyone you knew were still in France, you have to admit to yourself that there is a better than reasonable chance that they too are now a smoldering ruin. And that it makes no sense to sacrifice yourself on a maybe, when you could wait until you have concrete proof that France exists again. Which wouldn't be hard. Just wait until Alec gets old, and sends a postcard from France letting you know it's good to come back (my metaphor might have wavered a little towards the end there).

What might make all of this null and void is a new addition to the theory of time as presented in episode 4. A theory that runs counter to everything we've been told to this point, and is even a little self contradicting. And it involved the Traveler, that mysterious being the Freelancers had locked away, and looked poised to become a major influence on the future of the series, until they had their episode count cut and now he's this. Aside form not being Carlos (which was my theory), he turns out to just be a big Jason Mamoa looking dude from a thousand years ago, who was turned into a time travel cyborg so that he could go back and observe the past in order to learn from it. But he fell victim to the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle, which says you cannot observe anything without influencing it. And so, his future was wiped out, forcing him to assemble Freelancers in order to put right what once went wrong.

Except, within this infodump, it is also suggested that the Traveler can access other time lines, potential and prior, and use this ability to pull consciousness from one time line to another. Explaining why Curtis is a militant, murdery asshat sometimes, and Obi Wan others. He then appeared to use this ability to allow Alec to speak to his older self. But, it was his original older self, from before any time travel; time line prime, as it were. And gave his older, most bastardly, guilt ridden self just enough information to set in motion the sequence of events that led to the series. With all the changes they've made to the timeline, and at the very least, all the knowledge that Alec has gained since meeting Kiera, this meeting could only have taken place if the Traveler moved Alec from his timeline and into one that had previous ceased to exist.

And I'll admit, I'm a little confused as to how that is possible. I'm aware of the Many Worlds theory, but this show has never used Many Worlds. This show has been quite clear that it is one timeline, constantly being overwritten. They even physically show it happening in the season three premiere. The entire universe decayed into nothingness around Kiera as Alec altered the past. that does not suggest that all potential and former timelines are playing themselves out somewhere. But, if at the eleventh hour, that's the direction the writers have decided to take, then it does give Kiera a hope at getting home. It's still the craptastic home that she's since learned to loath, but home none the less.

Episode 5 covered enough material to fill two normal episodes, and again, I feel like in terms of character development and plotting, this should have been two episodes at least in a 12 episode system. Characters are being convinced of new points of view, or at least becoming willing to work together at an astounding rate. The turn over between Kiera, Brad, Carlos, Dylan and Kellogg in episode 5 was break neck, to the point where, by episode's end, it was more than a little difficult to keep track of who is still working with who, and against who, and towards what end. Kellogg doesn't want his older self in the present anymore than Kiera, as it means he gets sliced and diced. Carlos doesn't want a future full of refugees flooding into the present. Kiera wants to get home, and now so does Brad, despite the fact that his family is coming to the present, and his future is a war torn hell scape (Brad has developed into the most inconsistent character this season. Either that, or he's just a dumbass). Alec seems to be the only one that has decided to stick with the path he's opted for, which is the "don't be a dick" life style.

The episode did feature one major redemption though, in the form of Travis, who died for the last time (he's died a lot on this show) in an act of heroism. And it was probably the best scene of this series. Everything from when Kellogg calmly explains how everyone else involved in Liber8 gave themselves for the cause, while Travis' legacy would be dissection and fathering a generation of super soldiers. Travis has always been the lone true believer of the Liber8 group, the one whose faith has never faltered (though he did trip up slightly once or twice). But he's always firmly believed that he is absolutely the hero of the story. In this final act, despite destroying an entire police station in the process, he proved himself to be just that. And perhaps in doing so, managed to do more in averting Brad's future than anything the rest of them have done.
Share on Google Plus

About MR. Clark

Adopting the descriptor of "successfully unpublished author", MR. Clark began writing things on the internet in 2012, which he believed to be an entirely reputable and civilized place to find and deliver information. He regrets much.


Post a Comment

Newer Post Older Post Home